The Road to Creating a Viral Animated Video

The Road to Creating a Viral Animated Video

This year we started working with an exciting new visual format: video.

From The Guardian to The Drum, many have said in the last year that video is the future of content marketing, and we agree. If you’re not convinced yet: According to Cisco, video will account for 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2019.

That’s A LOT of people.

We have even updated our list of the best animated infographics out there – since we wrote it in 2016, there has been a ton of new additions.


We’re still at the early stages of our work with video and animation, but we’re finding it incredibly exciting. This new content format allows us to apply everything we’ve learnt after many years working with static and interactive infographics, whilst still presenting enough challenges to keep us on our toes.

In this post we’d like to share with you the journey to our latest video: ‘How Much Energy You Need To Burn Off 8 Junk Foods’ (a piece of content which has achieved 20+ placements in only 8 days of promotion.)

burn calories

Research & Copywriting Stage (or How We Found Out How to Burn Off The Foods)

For this project we worked with Alistair Mills, a personal trainer and fitness expert who helped us figure out what would be the perfect routine to exercise away a very specific selection of high-calorie (and delicious) junk food.

 AlistairI used the Polar FT7 heart rate monitor to calculate how many calories a set routine would allow anyone to burn a series of 8 junk foodsI decided to base the workout on supersets.

When completing supersets it doesn’t matter how much weight you’re lifting or how many repetitions you’re doing, it’s mainly about pushing yourself as hard as you can on every set taking as little rest as possible between sets. You’ve got to focus on high intensity, burning as many calories as possible.

The routines on this video were a compilation of supersets, as they are ideal for burning calories in such a way. We wanted to put together a powerful routine that would make a difference very quickly. Why spend 2 hours in the gym and half the time sat resting, burning 800 calories? You might as well train maximum effort for 50-60mins and burn 1200 calories.”

— Alistair Mills, Personal Trainer and Fitness Expert


Once we received the 8-step workout, we finalised the copy for the static infographic. At that point, we were ready to meet about the video — enter the pre-production stage.

Pre-Production Stage (or The Moment We Decided to Work With Live Video)

We jumped into the planning stage with a mad idea in mind: working with a combination of live video and animation.

In the pre-production stage we connected with John Surdevan, a video director specialised in multicam-ing live events. John helped us understand exactly what we would need every step of the way, from scouting for the perfect location to defining which cameras/lighting would make sense for what we wanted.

John Surdevan“Pre production for me starts with visualising the end result and working back from:

Edit > Camera capture > Scene > Lighting > Power > etc

all the way down to predicting how the talent will perform in various conditions.

In most cases, compromises do have to be made but it’s how you understand, predict and prioritise these issues that turn it into a success or a failure.”

— John Surdevan, Video Director

Production Stage (or The 3-Hour Process To Shoot a Lil’ Video)

This was our first live video so we probably spent more time that we needed. We spent 2/3 of our time setting up the cameras and lighting, but luckily we were able to get some good shots without much need of extra takes, stopping/starting and reframing.

With our footage back at the office, it was time to move onto the infographic design stage. This was a combination of live video and animated illustrations, remember?

Design Stage (or A Week of Real-Time Collaboration Between Designer & Animator)

Our deadline for launching this campaign was tight so we needed to save as much time as possible during the design and animation stage. This was the moment when we came up with yet another mad idea: saving time by having graphic designer and animator working simultaneously.

Thanks to the almighty combo of Slack and Invision, we created a space for collaboration where Eloísa Bielsa could illustrate the different sections of the static infographic while James McGuirk was moving forward with the video by animating some of these visual assets.

burger big mac

Untitled“For this infographic, I had to produce realistic illustrations of food and people exercising. Both are things I enjoy drawing, though coming up with a convincing dish of fried chicken proved tricky – particularly when even the promotional photos of such a meal look like indistinct brown lumps!

But the most interesting part of the job was preparing some of the human figures to be animated. It was like building a string puppet, with its separate head, body, and articulated limbs. And a few days later, like Geppetto, I watched them coming alive!”

— Eloisa Bielsa, Illustrator & Graphic Designer

Post-Production Stage (or How To Combine Real Video With Animations)

This is the stage where the magic happens, and it requires a lot of hard work — covering everything from working with voiceover artists to making sure the transitions are seamless.


Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 11.25.48

“Working on this video was my first experience using actual camera footage and whilst I thought it would be a big challenge, it was actually just another aspect that would prove the most demanding.

During the storyboarding process, I had the idea of a quick 8-second running and weightlifting animation, simple right? No, not at all… I quickly found out that character animation was very tricky – especially getting that natural movement of the limbs spot on, as you can see from the screenshot above.

Although the process was indeed difficult, now I’ve got a great new skill that can be used for future videos.”

– James McGuirk, Senior Graphic Designer & Animator

Promotion Stage (or The Moment Of Truth)

You’ll find the full static infographic on here. Check out the video below:

We’re now in the middle of the promotion campaign for this piece, and we’ve already achieved some fantastic features — including The Independent, The Sun, Daily MailLifehacker and Gizmodo’s very own SPLOID.

 There’s potential for this campaign to become part of our NeoMam Hall of Fame so stay tuned for an update!

Image credit: 3.19